Freeport faces challenging road in quest for another WPIAL volleyball title

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Monday, October 26, 2020 | 4:57 PM


The Freeport girls volleyball team finished in a four-way tie for the Section 5-3A title with Mars, Armstrong and Hampton.

Each team went 9-3 in section play.

Yellowjackets coach Tom Phillips said he was surprised Monday when he found out where his team and the other three from Section 5 were positioned in the Class 3A bracket.

Mars leads the section as a No. 8 seed, and Armstrong received the 10th seed.

Freeport, which moved up to Class 3A after claiming its seventh WPIAL Class 2A title last year, is the No. 11 seed and visits No. 6 Laurel Highlands in the first round Thursday. Hampton was seeded 12th.

“It’s a situation right now where everything is a clean slate,” Phillips said. “Everyone is starting out 0-0. Now, it’s time to see who can step up and go. Hopefully our section, in general, can show the reason why we had four teams in a tie for first place and be able to play at the level we have all year.”

The top seeds for the four WPIAL tournaments are North Allegheny in Class 4A, Beaver in Class 3A, North Catholic in Class 2A and Bishop Canevin in Class A.

The playoffs begin Tuesday with four preliminary-round matches in Class 3A and Class 2A. First-round matches Wednesday kick off the tournaments in Class 4A and Class A.

Second-seeded Plum, the Section 1-3A champion at 14-0, returns to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. The Mustangs open their playoff run Thursday at home against the winner of the preliminary match between Trinity and Section 1 rival Kiski Area.

“Honestly, I wasn’t worried about where we were seeded,” Plum coach Kelsey Bonk said. “We just have to worry about getting one win at a time and moving on to the next one. We’re only focused on Thursday.”

There will be a new WPIAL champion in Class 3A as Knoch, which won the classification the past three years, didn’t qualify.

Section 1 runner-up Franklin Regional, the fourth seed, opens Thursday against the winner of Elizabeth Forward and Lincoln Park.

Kiski Area qualified Saturday as it triumphed in a winner-take-all match with Greensburg Salem for fourth place in Section 1.

“We were excited to get in,” Cavaliers coach Jodie McCartney said. “In June, we didn’t even think this season would happen. We battled some injuries early on in the season and had some losses we weren’t expecting. But the girls really turned their play up in the second half.”

Section 4 champion Greensburg Central Catholic (12-0) is the No. 3 seed in the Class A bracket and hosts No. 14 Northgate at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Leechburg, runner-up in Section 4, is the No. 5 seed and hosts No. 12 West Greene on Wednesday.

Apollo-Ridge is the No. 10 seed in Class A but will host seventh-seeded Beaver County Christian on Wednesday.

Section 5 champion Deer Lakes is the No. 4 seed in Class 2A and awaits a home match Thursday against Frazier or Burgettstown.

In Class 2A preliminary matches Tuesday, 15th-seeded Ligonier Valley hosts No. 18 Southmoreland, and No. 16 Derry hosts No. 19 Neshannock.

Penn-Trafford is No. 7 in the 4A bracket and hosts No. 10 Canon-McMillan on Wednesday, while No. 9 Latrobe travels to No. 8 Seneca Valley.

Hempfield replaces Norwin in the Class 4A bracket. The first-round matches were scheduled before the completion of Norwin’s covid-19 quarantine.

The Knights had qualified fourth from Section 3. The Spartans, as the fifth-place team from the section, were next in line. As the 12th seed, Hempfield will travel to No. 5 Bethel Park on Wednesday.

All four championship matches are Nov. 7.

Fox Chapel will host the Class A and Class 2A finals at noon and 3 p.m., respectively. Chartiers Valley will be the setting for the Class 3A (1:30 p.m.) and Class 4A (5 p.m.) title contests.

TribLive HSSN will have livestream coverage of all four championship matches.

Because of covid-19 safety precautions and logistics, the PIAA last month set the state-tournament brackets to feature only the district champions.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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